PIZZA AND FLATBREAD COOKING TIPS
Perhaps what differentiates a pizza and a flatbread is oven-baking versus dry-frying on a hot, ridged char-grill or cast iron griddle pan.
Tomato-free: Much as I love tomato ragù, squash purée is a delicious alternative. Or just use good mushroom ketchup, green or red pesto, or chickpea hummus.
Quick bases: Impromptu pizzas can be made from Indian naan, Greek pitta, the top and bottom layers of a good French baguette (make sandwiches from the middle slice), or even chargrilled vegetables – think portobello or flat cap mushrooms, and thinly-sliced aubergine or cauliflower.
Cooked versus raw: I am a fan of topping my pizzas and flatbreads after the base has been cooked, to keep the textures and flavours of the garnishes. Equally I like the unique taste of the baked tomato ragù and toasted mozzarella. So heaven for me is gilding my bubbling margarita pizza, fresh from the oven, with shredded basil, Parmesan shavings, good oil and a few ribbons of prosciutto ham, or slices of spicy fennel salami, before dropping on dressed rocket leaves.
Oven-baking: If baking your pizza in a very hot oven (220°C+ fan for about 7 – 10 minutes), try to source a pizza slab, or a slice of granite, to fit your oven. This will give you similar results to an authentic pizzeria, with that classic stone-baked texture and unmistakable flavour.
Wood-firing: Clay ovens in the garden are all the rage. If you scrape away the white embers after it has warmed up, you can cook straight on the oven floor for about 3 – 4 minutes. All being well, you will have the best, smokiest pizza ever.
Pizza fritta: An alternative Italian way of cooking pizza is to deep fry it, both calzone style and a plain base. It puffs up like a poppadum and creates perhaps the lightest, most delicious pizza you’ll ever eat.
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